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Sandra Phillips Wins BMW i and TED Next Visionaries Competition
Phillips will hone her pitch into a full-length TED Talk taking place in November

In April, BMW i and TED (of TED Talks and TED Conference fame) announced that it was launching the Next Visionaries initiative to, as BMW Senior Vice President of Brand Hildegard Wortmann put it, “help give visionaries a platform for promoting their ideas for tomorrow’s world.”

Approximately 200 visionaries from 42 countries answered that call with ideas relating to everything from the development of autonomous vehicle technologies to the utilization of new energy sources. Of those visions, BMW i and TED selected six finalists whose proposals revolved around three core mobility ideas: technology, environment and societal impact.

These six finalists leaned on TED speakers for mentorship leading up to their pitches at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany in September. Technology visionaries Aarjav Trivedi and Sebastian Gabor worked with Fawn Qiu, who worked at MIT Media Lab in app development. Trivedi’s vision centered around the effects of autonomous vehicles on everything from real estate to health care, while Gabor envisioned shared vehicles as sentient companions.

Tom Moloughney and Ira Munn were taken under the wing of electric car activist Monica Araya, who is contributing to the drive to make Costa Rica the first nation on the planet to operate without the aid of fossil fuels. Moloughney put forth an idea for electric vehicles being powered by the roads on which they travel, while Munn posited the idea of a vehicle 3D printed using recycled plastics hulled from the ocean.

Jeremiah Owyang and Sandra Phillips were aided by designer and futurist Maurice Conti. Owyang laid out an idea for a future where autonomous cars become an ever-evolving “mobility organism,” and Phillips put forth a vision where autonomous and shared car services help advance smaller cities that currently lack adequate public transport.

“We need a vision that uses technology but builds solutions that are focused on humans and solves their needs,” says Phillips. “If we do that, I believe we have an opportunity to offer options to smaller communities, the less wealthy and for more inclusive demographics.”

Phillips’ idea was determined to be the winner of the challenged by TED curators and BMW executives Wortmann and Nicholas Peter. Having won the pitch, Phillips will continue to cultivate her idea leading up to a full-length TED Talk in November.

This article is presented by New Century BMW in Alhambra, California.

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